From Guest Posts

Guest Post: Top Books About Writing By Master Authors

This week’s guest post offers some resources on writing by some of the best writers in the business.

Learning from the Best: Top Writing Books Penned by Master Authors

Every writer’s goal is to become better at writing. That is, every writer dreams of creating content that makes a difference in someone else’s life. While some writers put a lot of focus on comma usage and other points related to grammar, others are more concerned with giving real meaning to the words they string together.

In reality, if a writer wants to do either of these things, he/she must set a goal of becoming extremely efficient at writing. Gifted writers learn to develop their skill. They write on a regular basis, and they know and take advantage of the time of day or night that they are most creative. In addition to these things, writers read and they learn from master authors.

Writers gain inspiration from their surroundings, from the people in their lives, and from the books they read. If a writer identifies with a writing style or technique used by a master author, that style can and should be adapted and used in the writer’s own work.

Seeking out ‘how to’ information from master authors is a way to build confidence and to help learn valuable tips that can help define a writing career. Below are some examples of top writing books by celebrated authors.

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Guest Post: Books to Get the Words Flowing

This week’s guest post is from writer Cara Aley.  She has recommendations for books to read that should prove inspiring.

Top 5 Prompt Books to Get the Words Flowing

Even the best of writers feel bereft of ideas at times, and we all know how frustrating that can be. A dry spell, writer’s block—whatever you feel you might be experiencing (or want to get ahead of experiencing and be prepared for), never fear. These five prompt books will help jostle those great ideas out of hiding in that noggin of yours.

Free yourself of the agitation of writer’s block and get yourself a prompt book or two.


Take Ten for Writers by Bonnie Neubauer

This book provides over 1,000 exercises to inspire your writing. The title indicates that each exercise only takes about ten minutes, but also that you can do the work ten different ways with unique outcomes.

Author Neubauer makes the great recommendation that you do an exercise like this once daily so that you don’t lose the momentum of idea generation and writing.

The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing by Martha Alderson

This books is fabulously full of helpful prompts, whether you are just starting a project or in the middle of one. For those in the middle of a writing project, Alderson “helps…with…imaginative prompts, such as: Create an obstacle that interferes with the protagonist’s goal and describe how that scene unfolds moment-by-moment. Provide sensory details of the story world and what your main character is doing at this very moment. Scan earlier scenes for examples of the protagonist’s chief character flaw and develop it. He or she will need to overcome this flaw in order to achieve his or her ultimate goal.” These are the kinds of tips that will take your writing that is in process to the next level.

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Guest Post: What it Takes to Be a Writer

This week’s guest post is from blogger and freelance writer Allison. She’s continuing our discussion of personal publishing stories by adding her testimonial today.

What it Takes to be a Writer

You know, when I got the idea that I wanted to be a writer as a profession I did not really understand what that meant. I had some romantic notion that writing was an easy thing. Something you could do with no problem. I would sit down at my computer and type out a novel or two, get it published and I would be a real writer.

As I got older the dream dimmed. I had not written a novel. I had not time to devote to that sort of thing. I figured that it was almost impossible to make any money as a writer. I mean, you had to be successful like J.K. Rowling or something, right? And there were no real other writing jobs out there beyond a novelist or journalist or technical writer. Ug. I had zero desire to write the latest article on sports news or weather.

So I worked one dead end job after another, trying to find a calling that would pay. After making some okay money I found myself increasingly dissatisfied. I wanted to write. Not just as a hobby like baking or hiking, but as a day in day out job. But how could I get started? I did not have a degree in writing. I had not had anything major published outside of some school stuff. I had not even written anything really for three years. Who would hire me?

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Guest Post: 5 Things to Do to Get Your Book Published

This week’s guest post is from web writer Nick Anderson. He writes about The 5 Steps You Need to Take in Order to Get Your Book Published.

Getting a book published is not simply a matter of having an idea. If you are an aspiring writer, or even an experienced one, and want to get your book published, here are the five important steps to follow.

1. Come up with an idea – the idea is of course the basis of the book. Your main concept or idea will determine whether your content is good enough to publish. If you have an original idea that has been floating around in your mind, discuss it with some trusted friends and colleagues who can give you an honest opinion about it. Having an original or inspired idea is always useful, because a calculated assessment of current trends can only help you a certain amount.

2. Do Your Homework – once you have an idea you can think about who the audience is meant to be for your book. Is it meant for children? If so, what age? Is it mainly intended for boys, or girls, or both?

Knowing your audience will help you when you begin writing your manuscript. Your target reader will determine how you develop characters and the style in which you write. Doing your homework also includes making a broad and loose outline for your story. This may help you by acting like a framework when you flesh out the book.

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Guest Post: Tightening Your Sentences

This week’s guest post is from online writer Reena Cruz. She writes about improving your writing on the sentence level, which I’ve often said is crucial for making your language fresh, varied, and interesting.

4 Handy Tips To Keep Your Sentences Interesting

When you’re strung out for new ideas—or worse yet, suffering from writer’s block, it’s easy to fall back on the same old writing tricks.

It isn’t easy to find a fresh approach to expressing yourself when you’re a full time writer charged with the task of keeping up a column, writing that literary masterpiece, or updating a blog on a regular basis. Nonetheless, keeping your sentences crisp, fresh and engaging is a necessity.

It may be hard to get out of your comfort zone when the creativity well runs dry, but there are a few tricks you can use to easily give your sentences a much-needed boost.

Looking for a way to jog your creative writing muscles?  If so, here are a couple quick things you can try.

1. Make Your Last Sentence A Clincher

They say that your first sentence is the most important. It sets the tone, the topic and the direction of your paragraph. However, your last sentence could be just as–or even more, significant.  It is the last impression your readers take with them, whether at the end of a long post or the end of a paragraph.

So while your topic sentence is used to set the focus for your paragraph, use the last one to comment and set your point.  It’s an effective way to drill down your argument.  Also, use a short sentence as your last sentence. Using a short bold sentence can do wonders to strengthen your tone of voice when done appropriately.

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Guest Post: Surviving as an Academic Writer

This week’s guest post is from writer Steve Aedy. A lot of us have to do other forms of writing for our day jobs, so Steve has some tips for writing discipline and craft that can apply to a wide variety of writing types.

You’ll Never Survive as an Academic Writer If…

As you embark on your freelance writing career, you probably see glory and riches in your near future.  While this is entirely possible, it isn’t always probable.

Academic writing is a very specific breed of freelancing.  Do you have what it takes to survive the demands of this career?  If you want to make a living as an academic writer, consider the following personality traits.

You’ll never survive academic writing if…

You Can’t Master the English Language

All writers need to have a basic understanding of proper grammar and sentence structure.  However if you are an academic writer, this knowledge is absolutely essential.  While other types of writing might be more flexible when it comes to abiding by the rules, academic writing demands strict adherence.

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Guest Post: How to Keep Your Passion Alive for Your Personal Writing When You Write for a Living

This week’s guest post is by culinary writer Bridget Sanford. She writes about keeping your joy in writing alive even when it’s your day job.

How to Keep Your Passion Alive for Your Personal Writing When You Write for a Living

You dreamed of being a writer when you were a kid — you just didn’t think it would be writing promotional copy for someone’s website. Instead, you thought you’d be writing best-selling novels and award-winning poetry. Maybe you imagined seeing your name at the end of movie credits or accepting an Oscar for best screenplay.

Even though you are happy to be able to pay the rent by spinning words, you wish that you were making an income doing the type of writing that you love. However, you find that working so much on writing for pay has diminished your enthusiasm for writing for pleasure. Here are a few tricks you can use to keep your passion alive for your personal writing — the stories that will make your name famous one day — when you write for a living:

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Guest Post: Life of a Self-Employed

This week’s guest post is by Paul Lenard. He writes today about the joys and annoyances of being a stay-at-home writer — and the notions others have about him as a result of his job title.

Life of a Self-Employed

I am a writer. But if I tell people that’s what I do for a living, generally the response I get is either a blank look, or something sarcastic along the lines of “Do you write stuff like Twilight?” So these days, I simply say that I’m self-employed.

Unfortunately, I don’t get to sit in a wood-paneled room, surrounded by works of my literary peers, while I sit at a typewriter on an old-fashioned solid oak desk. My days are mostly spent chasing either a small child or the cat round the house, cleaning up after them and scribbling down ideas into the tiny notepad I keep on my person with ‘Keep Calm & Write On’ emblazoned on the front. Only at night does my writing superhero cape come on and I get down to the real task of weaving a tale. Trust me; this isn’t how I thought writing would be.

When you hit writer’s block, , I find that the greatest inspiration isn’t reading a famous novel, watching TV or doing research in a stuffy library. Writers in general are fascinated by people, so when I need a bit of inspiration, I take my small person out in a pushchair and walk around town, along the shops, through the parks, always watching the behaviour of others around me. Sometimes I’ll stop at a cafe and watch out of the window. Once you’ve done this a few times, you start to notice the people walking past and create whole lives for them out of the mere seconds of their lives that you witness.

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Guest Post: How to Choose Careers for Your Characters

This week’s guest post comes to us from writer Sarah Rexman. She’s writing today about the importance of choosing your characters’ careers.


How to Choose Jobs for Your Characters

What your characters do for a living can mean much more than just passing dialogue in a party scene. The professions you choose for your characters can impact their development, become the catalyst for the plot, or just make them seem more believable to your readers.

Here are a few ways you can choose jobs for your characters that go beyond the obvious — doctor, lawyer, writer — and make your story more believable and interesting:

Consider Your Character’s Values

It’s safe to say that an Occupy Wall street protestor isn’t going to hold a job as a day trader. Or that an anti-government activist won’t be working as a lawyer. The job you choose for your characters should match their values.

Consider your character’s values, goals, and interests, and brainstorm all jobs that such a person might choose. If you are having trouble, think of the jobs your character would NOT choose and pick the opposite.

Choose Jobs that Complement the Theme or Plot

Your character’s profession can act as a catalyst for your plot. For example, if your story is a murder-mystery, jobs like police officer, military personnel, or even corporate executive can complement the action. A love story could benefit from the sensual nature of the work of an artist or a musician.

Once you understand where you want to go with the plot, you can make decisions about your character’s jobs that can help you accomplish your goals.

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Guest Post: Running a Background Check on Characters in Your Fiction

This week’s guest post is from Jane Smith at She has an interesting take on how to apply her day job (writing about background checks for businesses) to her fiction writing.

Origin Story: Running a Background Check on Characters in your Fiction

Typically when I write for my client site, I talk about criminal background checks from a business perspective. Believe it or not, I think that background checks figure very prominently into the realm of fiction, and this is coming from an amateur novelist.

You see, background checks are all about researching a person’s past. Previous crimes, unflattering records, and personal history all figure prominently into most professional background checks. In a sense, a background check is an easy (but not foolproof) way to get a snapshot of someone’s life. True, the background check might paint a somewhat one dimensional picture, but it’s an invaluable starting point for potential employers, health officials, and law enforcement to get an idea of someone’s personal past.

In order to create a fully realized and believable character, I believe that an author has to perform their own kind of background check on that character to glean details about their previous life. it’s not enough to write a story about a character as they are in the present plot—an author has to think about where it’s characters have come from, what they’ve been through, how they’ve lived their lives up to the opening sentence.

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